Monday, July 30, 2012

Sorry for Not Writing!

I was still going through the pictures of the second day of our road trip when it was time to leave again -- and this time for a longer period of time.  I did get time to work on the pictures and the post for that second day, which was right when blogger went and changed their software on me.

Fighting brain mets is hard enough; on top of recent deaths that have saddened me, that was just one step too far.  So instead of focusing on hiking or this blog, I have focused on getting healthy doing everything I can to supplement and complement the treatment we've been doing.  And it must've worked -- the latest imaging results show I have but one LM spot left to whack-a-mole out of my head, the relatively stable spot in the Internal Auditory Canal on the cerebral nerves!

So, two and 2/3 years after being diagnosed with LM/mets to the brain and spine, I AM STILL HERE and I STILL HAVE QUALITY OF LIFE.  Yes, my days are hard, spent trying to do anything I can to catch up on the backlogged workload while dealing with ridiculous side effects and "collateral damage."  But overall, these are the days I have been fighting for: family birthdays, graduations, golden anniversaries, and spending as much time as possible with my loved ones.

I will try to blog when I can, but honestly the new blogger is driving me crazy!  So always remember:  no news is probably good news!

Love and Peace.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Southwest Wanderings: Day One

Rocky Mountain High
Friday, March 30
~225 mi from Denver to Lookout Mountain, El Rancho,
Squaw Pass, Loveland Pass, and Glenwood Springs

We loaded up Big Blue for the slo0o0ow ride we intended to take home and checked out of our suite well before the noon checkout time. We are on our tenth year of dealing with cancer and treatments, so any time we can squeeze in a little va-cay time sounds good to us. And seeing how that first day riding to SLC had broken me so badly, we knew we needed to go in smaller spurts. So we were really looking forward to exploring different parts of Colorado and Arizona at a leisurely pace on our way home.

We had no idea what we were in for.

The most overused word of the whole trip: "WOW!"
DH posted that our jaws were aching from hanging open at the scenery; that's not much exaggeration!

In true hikingforhope fashion, I plotted a meandering route to take us into the mountains. I know that walking around at elevations higher than 8k' is REALLY GOOD for me (and has knocked cancer out of my lungs without chemo), so I REALLY like to get high! Once again, I planned to hot-springs-hop our way along so that each night I could get a good soak for the day's aches of the long ride and our intermittent "hiking." And once again, I'll try to let the pictures do the telling for me!

[Note:  Blogger has gone and changed its editor, so I do not know if you can still get the larger picture by clicking on the blog picture.  If not, I will try to resize these to a larger size.]

Leaving Denver Tech Center.

Our first sight-seeing stop was to see Buffalo Bill's grave site atop Lookout Mountain.

The Denver megalopolis from Lookout Mountain.

A lovely lake on Lookout Mountain.

A 360-deg view from the hillside of Buffalo Bill's gravesite.

The gravesite of Buffalo Bill and his wife.

The grave of William F. Cody.
He requested his burial here .

We should all be so accomplished
and dedicated to a better society!

A 100-year-old bison in the gift shop.

View from Lookout Mountain.

Buffalo lookout view.

Our next stop was El Rancho Colorado in Evergreen, just a little off our main interstate. I was determined to enjoy some good game meats before leaving the state! We opted to share both an appetizer and our meals so that we could sample as widely as possible. We planned to take pictures, but we were so eager to taste that we didn't remember till AFTER we'd eaten half our appetizer, and forgot completely to take a picture of the entrees (Colorado Elk Medallions and Grilled Buffalo Flank Steak) until we were miles down the road...too bad, because ALL the food was incredibly delicious (LOVED the side dishes)! And we had plenty of leftovers to stow in our cooler for a later picnic.

Elk sausage and rattlesnake-and-rabbit sausage.
We saved this for later; it was just as good cold as hot!

After lunch, we left Evergreen pointed for Squaw Pass Road. Although we were aware Mt. Evans Road---the highest road in America---would be closed, we still wanted to get as high as we could; and the route over Squaw Pass looked interesting. Again, we were so NOT disappointed!

Squaw Pass Road scenery, east of Mt. Evans Road.

Amazing views outside our windows!

We got out and walked around at the junction with Mt. Evans Road. Too bad the road was closed; it was dry past where it was blocked. We look forward to checking this road out later this Spring. We admired Echo Lake before heading on down the hill back toward the rendezvous with the interstate.

Mt. Evans Road at the Squaw Pass Road junction.

Doesn't that look like a limber pine to you?
I should've walked over and checked!

Echo Lake.

Squaw Pass Road, west of Mt. Evans Road.

After rejoining the Interstate for a few short miles, we ventured off once again on Hwy 6 over Loveland Pass.  Again, WOW!  Just...WOW!

Almost to the exit for the Pass...

Climbing higher on the highway.

 Getting high, hikingforhope style!

 A look back from the Continental Divide.

 The other side.

Stairway to the top of the Continental Divide ridge.
Of course I climbed them!
And felt every bit of that altitude, too!

 The top of the ridge...I mean, THE divide!

 After spending plenty of time walking around, climbing the stairs, chatting with the other visitors, and admiring the intense view we climbed back into BB for the drive down the other side.  It's hard to get pics from a moving vehicle, and by now our windshield was quite dirty.  But I did snap a couple.

 Heading out of Loveland Pass toward Vail.

By the time we rejoined the Interstate approaching Vail, the sun had nearly set.  Perfect time to go soak in hot springs!  And you know I had some picked out!

 Near Vail, Colorado.

Nearing Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

Glenwood Hot Springs Resort...the perfect end to the day!

We soaked and swam (OK, DH did). The other halves of the rabbit-and-rattlesnake and elk sausage made the perfect snack after we soaked.  The last of the light was just leaving the park as we made our way to an inexpensive quality inn and settled in for the night with our leftover lunch entrees and side dishes.  They were a hit all over again!

And BOY, did I sleep good that night!  There's something about soaking in those waters...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Soaking...Part Deux: Day Two

Three States in One Day (One New One)!

Well, I MADE it to SLC the first day, but I sure didn't wake up the next morning feeling like I could so much as get out of bed, let alone go on further! So it was a very slo-o-o-ow morning. We visited with our friends and didn't even say our goodbyes and leave until after 12:30 in the afternoon. Good thing it was our "short" day, right?

We didn't have far to go before we turned Big Blue east and headed toward Park City, Utah and Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming. We've never been in Wyoming, so this is another state to add to our list of "places seen" (I like that). Once again, I'll let the pictures tell the story for me; so enjoy!

Leaving Salt Lake City, the area is dry and covered with buttes...

...and rock formations...

...before giving way to the mountainous area around Park City, Utah.

Then, many of the Wyoming miles look just like this...

...but if you look closely, you can see a herd of ANTELOPE!
(They all turned and ran the instant they heard our vehicle stop!)

I had once again located hot springs along our route in which we could stop and soak; and since my body was REALLY hurting after YESTERDAY'S miles, there was NO WAY I was passing it up. So we turned south of the highway for a little 20-mi detour. AAAAAAAhhhhhhhhhhh!

The bridge over the river near the hot springs.

The hot springs pool and bath house.

These hot springs are 129 deg and have no cold water mixed with it,
so a dunk in the pool it feeds lasted no longer than 3 to 5 minutes!

Crystal clear right to the sandy bottom!

Aaahhh! This is what I came here for!

I bet we didn't soak more than half an hour there, it was so hot! But boy, did it nearly INSTANTLY relax the muscles in my back that were painin' me. We climbed back into BB at sunset and headed back to the highway.

The Wyoming sunset in our rear window.

Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and the crescent moon gave us a beautiful view as we stopped in Laredo for Mickey D's fruit smoothie and coffee drinks. Sadly, I couldn't get any decent night pictures of the beautiful sky.

As we left Laredo, I could see the light pollution of Cheyenne; from Cheyenne I could see the light pollution of Boulder, CO. But that was NOTHING compared to the light pollution of the Denver area.

The last time I flew through Denver, the city and its bedroom communities had sprawled into quite a metropolis. Now, it's a nearly endless megalopolis. Wow!

Since we have friends in the area, that's what we did on Sunday and again during the work week (when I wasn't sleeping; the trip quite broke me [again], but at least the hotel fed me meals). On the last night of our time in Denver, we took off to a hot springs not too far away with some of our friends. These waters have been sought out by the Native Americans as healing waters since early times, and they have the bonus of being in a CAVE!

Painting depicting early native American annual migration to the hot springs.

Heading down the stairwell to the hot springs.

Unfortunately for the photography side of this blog, it was VERY steamy in there! We loved it; plus the water was 115 deg. We soaked till absolute noodledom bliss! So you can bet our last night there, we slept WELL!

Bathing pools everywhere; pick your temperature preference!

The further upstream, the hotter.

Well, I did stay up plotting the route home, since this was when the REAL road trip was gonna begin! So stay tuned!